Sermon Given by Father Pancras Raja, on November 10, 2019
“Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Matt. 22: 21)
In this Gospel, the Herodians and the Pharisees, who, in other matter were mortal enemies, had agreed to entrap Our Lord and thus force him either to show disloyalty to his own countrymen and to the Jewish religion, or to declare himself opposed to the Roman authority. They appeared, on the one hand, to be very anxious in their own conscience, and on the other hand, to have highest respect for Our Lord, and so they proposed their difficulty: “if it was lawful to give tribute to Caesar.”
But Jesus knowing their hypocritical hearts, rebuked them for their cunning purpose and murderous intentions, bade them render to the civil authority what they owed it, and to the religion of their people what God had commanded them. Our Lord’s reply was not only a display of his divine wisdom, but also an occasion to teach them the lesson of their two-fold duty to the country and to God “Pro Patria et Pro Deo.”
These words of Our Lord are a reminder that there are two supreme societies in the world, one civil and the other religious, and that both derive their authority from God. To both in their respective spheres we owe our obedience and loyal service.
Let us, therefore, meditate today on our supreme obligation “to render what is due to the legal authorities of the civil state, and to render what is due to the supreme authority of God the Almighty.
I Pro Patria – For the Country
Civil society is the union of many families under the authority of one head for the purpose of assisting each other in securing their mutual perfection and temporal happiness. (Catechism of St. Pius X)
The meaning of civil authority is the power that governs temporal society which directs men in their social relations and protects them in their civil rights.
The authority which governs the State is from God, because god has established society and the power that rules over it for the common welfare. This is true no matter what form of government a people may adopt, since all authority is from God. “Let every soul be subject to higher powers: for there is no power but from God and those that are, are ordained of God.” (Rom. 13: 1)
Our duties to the civil authority: The State is not absolute in its power, but is subject to God, who is the source and origin of all right. Hence it follows that there can be no conflict between our duties to God and our duties to the State. God requires that we fulfill our obligations to the civil power, and the civil ruler has no right to ask us to do anything that God forbids. “Peter and the Apostles answering, said: We aught to obey God, rather than men.” (Acts 5: 29)
We owe our country love that is, patriotism, since after God, our parents and relatives, we owe our charity to our fellow countrymen with whom our temporal welfare is intimately bound up. Catholics cannot be disloyal to their country, because patriotism is a part of their religion.
We owe our country obedience to its laws, because the will of God and the common good requires this: “he that resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God.” (Rom. 13: 2)
We owe respect and honour to our lawful rulers and Magistrates: “Render therefore to all men their dues, Tribute, to whom tribute is due: custom, to whom custom: fear to whom fear: honour, to whom honour” (Rom. 13: 7), since they hold the place of God in our regard. Citizens are not fulfilling their duties, unless they use every legitimate means in their power to better the condition of their country by seeking the removal of bad laws and replacement of good ones, the dismissal of unworthy office holders, the correction abuses and so on.
Thus, we woe loyalty, obedience and respect to the legal authorities – in order to recognize in them the supreme authority of God. The whole life of Jesus Christ testifies to this doctrine of the Church that both the civil and religious authorities derive their authority from God. For instance, when Pilate asked: “Knowest not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee? Jesus answered, Thou shouldst not have any power against me, unless it were given thee from above.” (Jn. 18: 10, 11)
Therefore, to both the civil and religious authorities – in their respective spheres we woe obedience and loyal service – in so far as they are not contrary to faith and morals.
II Pro Deo – For God
Now let us reflect little deeper into the doctrine of rendering God the things of God. Yes, if the coin of the tribute belongs to Caesar because it bears the image of Caesar, how much more do we belong to God in so far as we bear the image and inscription of God in us, by the imprinting of our Baptismal character?
And if we really belong to God, then we have a duty to give ourselves, our whole being for the service of God! That is why to a certain lawyer who asked: “master, what must I do to possess eternal life,” Our Lord said: “thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole strength, and with all thy mind.” (Lk. 10: 27) It means a total submission of ourselves to God! Making oneself a sweet offering to please God, so that we may inherit his kingdom which is eternal life. This kingdom of God has been established by Jesus Christ in this world. The Roman Catholic Church is that kingdom of God on earth. The Traditional Catholics are those who now represent this kingdom.
But, rendering to God the whole of ourselves becomes very difficult or almost impossible for us in our fallen nature, chiefly in these modern times when the whole world suffers the loss of faith, and the sense of sin! Hence, we become almost unworthy of presenting ourselves as a pleasing offering to God. The theological reason for this unworthiness is the effect of Original Sin!
How can we make ourselves worthy?
If the original sin blocks the way to God, there is a way in the catholic Church which is not tainted by original sin! That is the immaculate way of the Mother of God. Through which the Son of God descended upon the earth, and through which he deigned to present us to the Heavenly Father.
The meaning of the Church
The Church is defined as the union of all the faithful, who being baptized, profess the same doctrine of Christ, have the same sacrifice, partake the same sacraments and are governed by their lawful pastors under one visible head on earth.
The members of the Church
There are three principal parts of the Church: The Church militant on earth. The Church suffering in purgatory. The Church triumphant in heaven.
The Church militant is composed of two classes of men: the good and the bad. The good ones are those in sanctifying grace – called the living members; the latter are those in sin – called dead members.
There are four classes of people who do not belong to the True Church: (1) Unbaptized persons who never belonged to the Church, such as Pagans, Jews, Atheists. (2) Heretics who have left the Church by denying some of her doctrines, such as Protestants. (3) Schismatics who do not have union with the head of the Church by rejecting her authority, such as the Greek Orthodox Church. (4) Excommunicated persons whom the Church has cut off from her communion, until they repent for their sin.
The authority of the Church
Only in the Catholic Church is salvation to be found (like the Ark of Noa). Only in the Traditional Catholic Church is there a true worship of God.
“I believe in the Catholic Church” – is the ninth article of the Creed. Hence, we believe that the origin of The Church is divine, and her powers and privileges are likewise divine.
It is impossible that there should be more than one true Church and one true doctrine, because truth is one and cannot contradict itself. There are four marks by which the true Church can be known: it is One, it is Holy, it is Catholic, and it is Apostolic.
Lesson: Let us therefore ever remain faithful members of the mystical body of Christ – which is the true Church – by rendering true worship to God in the Catholic Church, in the same holy faith, same holy sacrifice, the same sacraments which the Catholic Church professed for two thousand years. Let us have faith in her teachings, show obedience to her laws and authorities and have respect to her ministers, who represent Our Lord Jesus Christ.